Okay, here we are with a second set of recent questions (and answers, of course) to follow the 59 Ask Bwana columns I’ve run and updated here.
QUESTION: What do you make of the explosion of self-published material for Kindle and Nook, and does it entirely upset the balance of publisher-writer power?
ANSWER: First, you have to divide the explosion of e-books into reprint and self-published. Most — not all, but most — professional writers need, or at least are unwilling to forego, their advance, so most of the new self-published stuff on the market is primarily (not totally, but primarily) dreck by would-be writers who simply aren’t skilled enough to sell. I think if the reader gets burned a few times, he becomes much more cautious, and starts looking expressly for names he knows or has heard of.
Also, the math is depressing. I hear pros brag about how they self-published a short story and sold 200, or even 300, copies. Good for them, but 300 times 35% (most stories sell for 99 cents US, and the 70% royalty doesn’t kick in until $2.99) is $105 US. The average short story goes about 5,000 words and the rock-bottom pro rate, below what most of the magazines and anthologies pay, is a nickel a word. Do the math.
Just sold a short story, “The Enhancement”, to the
anthology Impossible Futures, edited by Tom Easton.
There were 59 Ask Bwana columns in Speculations, and we’ve run them all here on the web page, with updates where necessary. But while they were running, we’ve received enough new questions for a few more columns. This is the first of them.
QUESTION: It’s been about 15 years since you first began the Bwana columns, what’s the thing you think has changed the most about publishing since 1998?
ANSWER: Easy. There were, for all practical purposes, no e-books back then. Look at the world today. And a corollary: there were no e-zines paying pro rates in 1998; as I write these words there are 16.
QUESTION: I’m a relatively new writer who is trying to break in through Writers of the Future. You’ve been a judge for four years now. Do you think it lives up to its billing as an entry port into Science Fiction and Fantasy?
ANSWER: It’s hard to argue with any program or contest that can turn out Patrick Rothfuss, Eric Flint, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Robert Reed, Dean Wesley Smith, Dave Wolverton, R. Garcia y Robertson, Mary Turzillo, Stephen Baxter, Nick DiChario, Sean Williams, Tobias Buckell, David D. Levine, Jay Lake, Diana Rowland, and all the rest. It’s a list of achievement comparable to the graduates of Clarion, the other major venue. I’ve judged one and taught the other, and I’m highly impressed by both of them.
Just sold “Observation Post” to Beyond the Sun, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. This was originally sold to an English/Czech anthology, was paid for, and then the anthology was cancelled at the last minute. I made a few minor changes to fit Bryan’s theme, and this will be its first appearance (though second sale; have fun, bibliographers.)
Bob Garcia and I just delivered the original anthology, THE WORLDS OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, which Baen Books will publish this October. Every story was written expressly for this volume, with the exception of my own, which hasn’t appeared since 1965. (Can I be that old?)
Introduction, by Mike Resnick and Bob Garcia
Tarzan and the Great War, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Fallen, by Mercedes Lackey
The Forgotten Sea of Mars, by Mike Resnick
Scorpion Men of Venus, by Richard Lupoff
Apache Lawman, by Ralph Roberts
Tarzan and the Martian Invaders, by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah Hoyt
Moon Maid over Manhattan, by Peter David
The Two Billys, by Max Alan Collins and Matthew Clemens
To The Nearest Planet, by Todd McCaffrey
The Dead World, by F. Paul Wilson
Tarzan and The Land That Time Forgot, by Joe R. Lansdale
Per request, I’ve made my novel “The Branch” available for Kindle and Nook formats, in my e-book store. If you have a Kindle or a Nook e-reading device, do please take a look at what I’ve got available. The link for my e-book store is here, or you can click on it from the horizontal link bar at the top of my blog.
NOTE: this article first appeared in Speculations — September, 2003
The crystal has been cloudy for a couple of years, but it’s finally beginning to clear. The field has been in the doldrums. Advances (in many cases) are down. The average print run is down. Science fiction, which for years was what this field was all about, has become a poor cousin to generic fantasy series. A mass market field that had 17 distinct and separate science fiction programs a quarter-century ago just lost another one (Roc, which was assimilated by Ace), and is down to only Tor, Del Rey, Bantam, Eos, Ace, Baen and DAW — and since Del Rey and Bantam are owned by the same German company, you don’t have to be a genius to see what’s coming down the road.
But you know what? There are more readers and book buyers today than ever before, and America has always been an entrepreneurial society — so a number of small presses have stepped up to fill the gap.
Small presses have always existed in science fiction. They have a long and honorable history, dating back to Arkham House, Fantasy Press, Hadley Publishing, and Gnome Press — but while they were honorable, they were never lucrative, at least not to the writers. There were still small presses when I broke in, and if you were lucky you might — just might — get $1,000 or $1,500 US for your hardcover, approximately the same advance a beginning writer got right after the end of World War II.
Just sold my 2004 novella, “Keepsakes”, to the Czech magazine, XB-1.
NOTE: this article first appeared in Speculations — July, 2003
Okay, you’ve sold your first (or second, or third) novel, and you’re not merely proud of it, you know deep in your heart that it deserves a major award . . . and so you decide to campaign for one.
You survey the field and realize that the Hugo is all but impossible to campaign for. Too many voters, and every facet of the voting is secret, whereas the Nebula can be won with far fewer votes, and you only need ten recommendations from fellow SFWAns to make the preliminary ballot. Hell, if the right ten recommend you, ten of the most popular and influential writers, you’re a cinch to make the ballot, right?
So how do you do about it?
Win Some, Lose Some (Isfic Press)
The Incarceration of Captain Nebula (Subterranean Press)
Resnick’s Menagerie (Silverberry Press)
Resnick on the Loose (Wildside Press)
Resnick Abroad (Alexander Boooks)
With a Little Help From My Friends (Farthest Star)
Masters of the Galaxy (PS Publishing)
Stalking the Zombie (Amercan Fantasy Press)
The Cassandra Project (with Jack McDevitt) (Ace)
The Doctor and the Rough Rider (Pyr)
U.S. reprint: 6
Dog in the Manger (Seventh Street)
A Miracle of Rare Design (Dog Star Books)
Bug-Eyed Monsters and Bimbos (Phoenix Pick))
Adventures (Phoenix Pick)
Exploits (Phoenix Pick)
Encounters (Phoenix Pick)
Second Contact (China)
Starship: Mutiny (Spain)
Starship: Mutiny (Hungary)
Stalking the Dragon (Germany)
The Cassandra Project (Germany)
Audible.com – 29
Blackstone Audion – 3
The Evening Line (RIP-OFF)
Stalking the Zombie (STALKING THE ZOMBIE)
Real Jake (MASTERS OF THE GALAXY)
The Wizard of West 34th Street (Asimov’s)
The Kid at Midnight (Postscripts)
Tourist Trap (with Barry Malzberg – TALES OF THE NEW SUN)
Hotel of the Suicides (with Sabina Theo – Daily Science Fiction)
Spirit Gum (with Jordan Ellinger – Daily Science Fiction)
The Sacred Tree (Daily Science Fitction)
The Ascent (with Brad Torgersen – TALES FROM THE FATHOMLESS ABYSS)
The Puce Whale (Subterranean Magazine)
The Second Civil War (SOLARIS 1.5)
The Things That Pearls Can Buy (with Gio Clairval – THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS)
Hush, Little Baby, Don’t You Cry (with Brennan Harvey – THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS)
The Revealed Truth (DARK FAITH: INVOCATIONS)
In the Tombs of the Martian Kings (OLD MARS)
Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge (Phoenix Pick)
Bully! (Phoenix Pick)
Origins (PULP HEROES)
El and Al vs. Himmler’s Hideous Horde from Hell (UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS_
The Homecoming (Bulgaria)
The Homecoming (Italy)
The Homecoming (China)
The Homecoming (Russia)
The Homecoming (Czech Republic)
Six Blind Men and an Allien (Russia)
The Bride of Frankenstein (Slovakia)
Shaka II (Czech Republic)
The Evening Line (Audible.com)
The Homecoming (Escape Pod)
Soulmates (with Lezli Robyn – Escape Pod)
Movies sold or optioned::
Options renewed: 4 (for 9 titles total)
Outright sale: 1
Down Memory Lane
Treatment sold: 1
Some Heroes Die (with Harry Kloor)
Screenplay sold: 1
Some Heroes Die (with Harry Kloor)
Video game sold: 1
Weird Western series
Articles sold: 6
4 Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues for SFWA Bulletin
Introduction to PAST MASTERS
Introduction to CHICON III: THE PROCEEDINGS
Stellar Guild books (for Arc Manor)
Galaxy’s Edge magazine (for Arc Manor)
Plus a Worldcon Guest of Honorship and a 51st wedding
anniversary. Not bad for a 70-year-old geezer.